I’m not a first year teacher but I’m also not a veteran. I mean, where does 6th year teacher fall? I’ve been teaching first grade for 6 years now, but I’ve been in education since I graduated high school in 2000. Gosh! That almost feels like centuries ago.
Yes! We love the cutesy stuff. Oh how we love the cutesy stuff. I LOVE the cutesy stuff. Check out my TPT store and you will see-Mrs. Valdez (that’s me) loves herself some cutesy stuff! But here’s the thing, we ALL know very well that even if the year starts and the classroom is not complete with all the cutesy stuff, it can be finished slowly throughout the year. Well maybe not exactly throughout the year, more like by the end of September. The point is that yes, cutesy will make you feel good and it will make for a very welcoming environment, and we want that, but if you start the first day of school and your room looks UH-MA-ZING, but you don’t have one single plan-none of it, I repeat, NONE of it matters. I remember my first year thinking that it was ok to plan all my centers stuff later on in the year. I thought getting the room ready was more important. Silly me! I learned from that mistake quickly. Here we are years later, and I know better but the cutesy calls my name so much that sometimes I get distracted and lose focus. We all know better, but sometimes we get distracted. Don’t get distracted. Make a list and stick to it or if you’re like me you’ll make a list for your lists and check off 5 lists all at once. By the end of this post, you’ll realize that this post is a reminder for myself more than it is advice for you. Haha!
Not going to the teachers’ room
I love that meme, but seriously no one expects you to know it all from the beginning. I understand that not all places offer new teachers the support they need and sometimes that meme represents reality. I was fortunate to have a very supportive mentor teacher my first year, but I know not everyone has that. They just give you a classroom and tell you to teach. No resources, no support, no guidance! So where do you go? Well, you become friends with your colleagues. You don’t alienate them. You become their team mate. You ask for help. Many times, we don’t ask for help because we’re shy or don’t want to be seen as unprepared. We want to show a strong front and come off as knowledgeable but remember we were all first year teachers at some point. Asking for help doesn’t make you look less prepared. In fact, knowing the things you need help with will make you a better teacher. How many teachers think they’re great only to never grow in their profession because they don’t feel they need to change anything? Just like our students grow daily, so do we. Being analytical of your practice is a good thing! That self-analysis will give room for growth and that is definitely something needed in our field. We are surrounded by so many talented teachers who are truly a wealth of knowledge. You will learn more from a teacher you work with (sometimes what not to do) than from a book because, let’s face it-theory and practice are two very different things.
Not establishing a classroom management routine
I am hopeful that these simple yet very important tips help you on your journey as a teacher. I was once a first year teacher and even with all my previous experience, I was quite nervous and made MANY mistakes. At this point in my teaching career I am STILL learning and 20, 30 years down the line, I will STILL be learning. This is what makes our profession so special-there isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t learn something new.